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LaRED TIG Week: Chocolate Cake Making: How the Mission Promise Neighborhood implements the Collective Impact Approach as a recipe to achieve results by Liz Cortez

(Spanish version)

Liz Cortez
Liz Cortez

 Hi, I’m Liz Cortez, Associate Director of the Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) Initiative at the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) in the Mission District of San Francisco, CA. My career has always focused on advancing social justice by working with communities of color to improve outcomes in financial stability and education. I am passionate about eliminating disparities, collaboration, and using data for action, and believe that our communities have the power to lead and be the change agents necessary to improve outcomes.

MPN is a place-based collective impact initiative; partners provide wrap-around support via a two-generation approach to children and families from prenatal to college to career and work to dismantle the organizational silos that often exist in service coordination.  In our case, we are focused on promoting financial stability and educational achievement. And we know that developing a common agenda, one of the essential elements of collective impact, requires trust building and the shedding of individual organizational identities to become part of a collective. At MPN, we often use the metaphor of making a chocolate cake to describe our collective impact work because like a good chocolate cake there are many ingredients and they all work perfectly together to make a great cake.

Rad Resource: The Collective Impact Forum website has lots of resources, tools, and advice for practitioners of Collective Impact.

Lesson Learned: It’s all about contribution and not attribution.

We have a variety of partners offering different programs, service, and capacity building opportunities. All of these offerings are important ingredients in the “chocolate cake recipe”. When the cake is done, you can no longer see the eggs and the milk, but you know that they each played a critical role in achieving the outcome.

Lesson Learned: Having a backbone team of program and data and evaluation staff is critical.

The backbone team, which often is behind the scenes, does the mixing and ensures that all of the ingredients are blending together to achieve a common agenda. Staff wear a variety of hats including convening of partners, building capacity around data and evaluation, analyzing data to identify disparities and strategy improvements, and supporting the development of a policy and advocacy agenda.

Lesson Learned: Building data and evaluation capacity across the collective has strengthened our ability to tell our collective stories.

Many organizations came to the partnership with very little technical capacity for data collection, analysis, and sharing. As a backbone team, we have worked to bring all partners to a common capacity level.

When the cake is baked and lathered in chocolate, we can celebrate that the ingredients came together to produce something bigger than our individual selves. In our case, working together has led to improved results in financial and educational outcomes for Latinx children and families in our community.

To learn more about Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) visit us at www.missionpromise.org

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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